Everything You Need to Know to Throw a Successful Cocktail Party

There’s a certain sophistication surrounding a cocktail party—perhaps you picture James Bond in a tux holding his shaken, not stirred. You certainly can pull out all the stops, but we say there’s another way: go simple. Bring together your favorite friends or family with carefully chosen drinks and food and you’re well on your way to a memorable cocktail party.

At Luigi Bormioli, our Italian heritage means we—like our beautiful creations—were born to be gracious hosts. So sit back, relax and soak in our top tips for memorable cocktail parties.

Work with a Theme

Unless it’s Halloween, costumes are not required, but a theme gives a fun and tidy feeling to the whole event. It’s something that’s discreetly carried through the entire party in food, drink and decorations. Some themes are a no-brainer: Mexican around Cinco de Mayo or red, white and blue near Independence Day. The best part about a theme? It can be anything that suits you, from a color (we love a white-out party in winter!) to your favorite movie—the sky’s the limit.

Select the Menu

Our parents and grandparents called them hors d’oeuvres, but we call them small bites, a cornucopia of tastes that, at a cocktail party, substitutes for a meal. Keep your theme in mind and then craft a tempting selection of finger foods—no knife and fork required:

  • Go with seasonal and easy. This keeps it fresh and cuts down on your prep time.
  • Offer a mix of hot and room temperature foods. Keep hot foods hot in chafing dishes or on smaller trays for easy right-out-of-the-oven refills. Room temperature foods may be displayed on bigger platters, trays and bowls like our stunning Crescendo Serving Bowl and Crescendo 3-Bowl Set.
  • Stock up on standbys. Choose these hearty go-tos in case you start to run low: extra nuts, cheeses, charcuterie, olives and breads. They’ll look as good as they taste in our Crescendo Chip-n-Dip set.
  • Scatter trays around your venue to encourage mingling.
  • Don’t forget dessert (as if!). Wow the crowd with something easy at the evening’s end: a show-stopping cake displayed in our gorgeous Crescendo Footed Cake Platter with Dome. You will need a fork for this one, but it will be so worth it.

    Set Up the Bar

    A full bar is fun, but why not make life simple and stick to a few signature items that fit your theme and the season? Add beer, wine (including sparkling!) and soft drinks and you’ll no doubt more than accommodate every guest’s whim.

    • Have a dedicated table for the bar—unless you have an honest-to-goodness bar at home—and set it up for a seamless flow. Go left to right: glasses and napkins, alcohol, garnishes, ice and bar tools. If you’re mixing drinks that require a sugar or salt rim, do those in advance and keep an eye on the table so you can replenish as needed.
    • Check your bar tools and make sure you have what you need to make your signature drinks. If you’re making martinis, you’ll want one or two shakers. If you’re offering an Old Fashioned, make sure you have a pestle for muddling fruit.
    • When possible, mix drinks in pitchers in advance so you aren’t stuck behind the bar the whole night.
    • Remember the right garnishes and mixers. Depending on your signature cocktails you may need decorative sugar, salt, olives, cherries, cocktail onions, lemon, lime, any number of herbs or orange peels.
    • Don’t forget to have plenty of ice on hand for chilling and for adding to drinks.
    • Glassware: Here’s where it pays to keep it simple. You’ll need to plan for roughly four glasses per guest (signature cocktail glass, red wine, white wine and beer). You might choose our Incanto or Supremo wine glasses and our Michelangelo Pilsner—or any number of our gorgeous stemware and barware items.
    • Also stock plenty of beverage or all-purpose glasses like our sleek Sublime Beverage.

      A Quick Note About Our Products

      As you’re browsing for your favorites, you’ll see several logos that we’re proud to use in our product descriptions. They stand for quality, durability, environmentally friendly and, of course, amazingly clear and sparkling.

      Here’s where we shine: We’ve got a glass for every occasion. We know when the moment matters, the glass matters, so we’ve created our stunning made-in-Italy stemware and barware to exacting standards. Peruse our recommendations, and note those made with one or more of the proprietary techniques we’re so proud to offer:

      • SON.hyx to strengthen while keeping the glass brilliant.
      • Sparkx for an ultra-clear, totally transparent and very durable glass.
      • TITANIUM Reinforced stem to keep it strong and durable.
      • Centro Studi Assaggiatori, prestigious international specialists in food and beverage sensory analysis.
      • EcoFriendly means we’re lead-free, recyclable and kind to Mother Nature.
      • 25-Year Guarantee on all Luigi Bormioli products made with SON.hyx.

      (Did we mention they’re dishwasher safe, too?)

      Have Fun!

      We believe the party’s host should have as much fun as the guests. Follow these extra tips for cocktail party success:

      • Feel free to experiment! It’s your party, and you can bust out bold decorations, creative cocktails and funky food if you wish. Just remember to have some of the basics above for the finicky.
      • Remember vegetarians. The easiest way to learn about your guests’ food preferences (and issues with gluten, dairy, peanuts, etc.) is to ask on the invitation. Welcome their feedback so you can prepare accordingly.
      • Clean as you go. Grab empty glasses, plates and crumpled napkins throughout the evening so you don’t feel like a maid at the event’s end.
      • Pick your favorite music. The pro tip: make sure it’s background music, softly playing so as not to interrupt conversations. After all, that’s why we host cocktail parties—to bring our favorite people together for talking and laughing.

      Next time you’re planning a cocktail party, make sure our fun and functional items are invited. Your guests will feel special, be impressed and aspire to be just like you—the smart and savvy party planner. Salute!

      At Luigi Bormioli, we take pride in our Italian-crafted, superior quality glassware. Your glasses, created using our proprietary SON.hyx ultra-clear formula, will retain their brilliant and transparent appearance and are backed by our 25-year guarantee that guards against chipping on the rim or foot, as well as discoloration or cloudiness resulting from washing. You will enjoy their beauty, durability and strength for many years to come. We aim to enhance your tabletop lifestyle and entertaining experience with a glass for every occasion. When the moment matters, the glass matters.